Wed, May 18, 2011 - Page 19 News List

LFP: Licka jeopardizes Lyon’s Champions League push

ON THE UP SIDE:While less than satisfactory, the result could have been even worse for Lyon, as a save by Hugo Lloris stopped Cris from scoring an own goal


Brest’s Johan Martial, left, vies with Lyon’s Jeremy Toulalan during their match in Brest, western France, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

A scorching half-volley by Czech midfielder Mario Licka earned Brest a 1-1 draw at home to Lyon on Monday, which damaged the visitors’ hopes of securing Champions League qualification.

Third-placed Lyon, humiliated 4-0 by Auxerre in their previous outing, were bidding to pull four points clear of nearest rivals Paris Saint-Germain.

However, they were only able to extend their advantage by two points, meaning that beaten French Cup finalists PSG can assume pole position in the race for a Champions League place if they win at Bordeaux today.

Failure to secure third place would mean Claude Puel’s side miss out on a place in Europe’s premier cup competition after participating 12 successive times.

“We dominated, but rushed our final pass,” Puel said. “It is a pity because we needed that second goal to put us out of sight and then their goal came out of nowhere. It is punishing, but we need to be more consistent and now it is imperative we battle to the end to secure this third place.”

Brest, meanwhile, climb to 15th, two points above the relegation zone with two matches remaining — away at Auxerre and then at home to Toulouse on the season’s final day.

Brazilian attacking midfielder Ederson, preferred to his -compatriot Michel Bastos in the starting XI, opened the scoring for Lyon in the 15th minute by glancing home a near-post header from Miralem Pjanic’s left-wing corner.

Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris preserved his side’s lead early in the second period, denying Bruno Grougi with a sprawling save after the Brest midfielder latched onto a knockdown in the visitors’ area.

Pjanic came close to extending his side’s lead shortly after the hour, with a deflected drive from the edge of the box that skidded narrowly wide of the left-hand post.

Licka delivered his sucker-punch in the 76th minute, the 28-year-old adjusting himself brilliantly to fire a magnificent half-volley into the top-right corner from 22 yards.

It could have been even worse for Lyon, but Lloris produced a full-stretch save to prevent Cris putting through his own goal with 10 minutes to play.

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